Amber Alert lifted for missing 10-year-old boy, police investigation continues
Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, who was last seen around noon Monday in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, is still missing
Montreal police have lifted an Amber Alert issued Tuesday afternoon for a missing 10-year-old boy, but say the search continues for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou.
Kouakou hasn't been seen since he left his home in the working class Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighbourhood in the city's north end around noon Monday to meet a friend.
Montreal police said issuing the Amber Alert in the first place — which is only used in cases believed to be abductions — was an "exceptional measure."
We have reason to believe that his health is compromised.— Const. Laurent Gingras, Montreal police
"Usually we would issue an Amber Alert only in circumstances where a criminal act has been committed where for example we have a description of a kidnapper or a description of a getaway car," said Montreal police spokesperson Const. Laurent Gingras.
"In this case… we have reason to believe that his health is compromised because it's been 24 hours, he's a 10-year-old boy in fourth grade and it's winter."
Amber Alerts are usually issued only when a child has gone missing, is believed to have been abducted and be in danger, and when police have information that might help locate them. This is the first time the Montreal police have issued an alert without meeting those conditions.
Police said that because the four criteria could not be met the Amber Alert was lifted Tuesday at around 11:30 p.m. They said that does not affect the investigation and reiterated that the search for the boy continues.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Missing?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Missing</a> Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou: the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SPVM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SPVM</a> puts an end to the AMBER Alert. We are in the investigative mode and the research continues. We ask the population to stay vigilant and report any information regarding Ariel to 911. Thank you for your help.<a href="https://t.co/N30PTYb4bo">https://t.co/N30PTYb4bo</a><br>^CC <a href="https://t.co/cqmIWgU1Ty">pic.twitter.com/cqmIWgU1Ty</a>—@SPVM
Last seen in park?
Montreal police say Ariel may have been spotted Monday at 2 p.m. in a neighbourhood park.
Officers were trying to track down a woman who told a passerby she saw a young boy fitting Ariel's description in Parc des Bateliers, which is two minutes from his home and borders the Rivière des Prairies.
The woman came forward and is collaborating with investigators.
Montreal police say they've expended the perimeter of their search to include the river.
They are also asking people who live in or near Ahunstic-Cartierville to look in their backyard sheds, or anywhere a child could be hiding.
Gingras said the boy has no history of running away or not checking in with his parents.
He's missed his calls since yesterday.— Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, Ariel's father
Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, the boy's father, repeated that he believes his child will be found before becoming overwhelmed with emotion.
"I'm devastated," Kouakou said. "But at the same time, I have confidence in the Montreal police."
The alert is only in effect within the province of Quebec for the time being.
Ariel is about four feet seven inches tall and weighs 88 pounds. He has dark hair and dark eyes.
Ariel speaks French and was last seen wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes.
Kouakou said the boy's mother granted him permission to go to his friend's house. When Ariel got there, his friend wasn't home.
"There was a miscommunication. That's all we know. He's missed his calls since yesterday," Kouakou said.
Police searched the youth centre near de Mésy Park, Marcelin-Wilson Park and Galéries Normandie in Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
They also searched businesses open 24 hours a day in the neighbourhood and surrounding areas.
By late Tuesday afternoon, had police set up a command post in the neighbourhood, at the corner of Gouin Boulevard and Bois-de-Boulogne Avenue.
The Missing Children's Network, a non-profit group that assists with such cases, became involved Tuesday morning. Executive director Pina Arcamone said police made the right move to launch the Amber Alert, even if it only remained in effect for several hours.
"It is really, really urgent that we find him. At 10 years old, you're still very young. You don't necessarily have all the coping skills to be able to really take care of yourself, such as look for food or shelter," she said.
"He has been missing for more than 24 hours and there is a family in Ahuntsic-Cartierville that is living every family's worst nightmare."
Anyone with information on Ariel's whereabouts is asked to call 911.
With files from Antoni Nerestant, CBC Homerun and Radio-Canada